HC Deb 28 November 1945 vol 416 cc1311-3
41. Sir W. Wakefield

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty why release of naval V.A.D. s is being delayed compared with V.A.D. s with the R.A.F. and the Army.

Mr. Alexander

Compared with the Army and the R.A.F., the Navy has throughout the war, and still is, responsible for a larger proportion of the hospital treatment of its own personnel. The duties of the medical branch of the Royal Navy have not, therefore, diminished to the same extent as in the other Services. The entry of recruits and the closing down of auxiliary hospitals should result in a speeding up of the release of Naval V.A.D.s. The closing down of three auxiliary hospitals is now being actively considered.

Sir W. Wakefield

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a real feeling of grievance that some of these girls are not fully occupied and that quicker release could be made, compared with what is happening in the other two Services?

Mr. Alexander

I am not aware that there is, in relation to the number of beds to be covered, any real lag behind in the Naval V.A.D. but I shall be glad to look into any specific case brought to my notice.

Mr. Baldwin

Is the Minister aware that, at a naval hospital in Dumbartonshire recently there were seven nurses in charge of six patients, and does he not think that, at least, one of them is redundant?

Mr. Medland

Is it not a fact that this trouble with Naval V.A.D.s is largely due to the fact that there is a shortage of sick-berth stewards in the Navy at the present time?

Mr. Alexander

Yes, there has been a severe shortage of sick-berth ratings because, in the earlier part of the war, very few of the men joining the Navy wanted to go into that branch —they all wanted to go into the fighting branch of the Service —and we are having difficulty now in getting them trained.

71. Flight-Lieutenant Beswick

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the groups being released from the R.N. this month and the comparative release groups of men serving under T124/X engagement.

Mr. Alexander

The branches which are common to the T124/X personnel and R.N. General Service are the supply and engine-room branches. By 31st December we are scheduled to reach group 25 in the supply branch and group 26 in the engine-room branch. This applies both to the T124/X and general service personnel. The average rate of release for the Royal Navy will, by that time, have reached group 31.

72. Lieut.-Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty why, on 9th November, Group 24 was still waiting in Ceylon, while Group 36 had been reached in other naval bases in India; and what the position is now.

Mr. Alexander

As hon. Members are already aware, it is impossible to release the different branches of the Royal Navy at the same rate. So far as I know, there has been no case of difference in the rate of return to this country of groups of ratings of the same branch in Ceylon and India. If the hon. and gallant Member has any specific cases in mind, and will let me have details, I shall be glad to have them investigated.

73. Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the rate of release of V.A.D.s, who are serving with the R.N., is based upon the same principles as those applicable to V.A.D.s serving with the Army and the R.A.F., or what principles are being applied to the demobilisation of these women.

Mr. Alexander

Yes, Sir.

76. Lieut.-Colonel Sharp

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, whether he will now say if demobilised naval personnel will receive an additional day's release leave with pay for each month's overseas service; and if appropriate payments will be made to those already demobilised.

Mr. Alexander

Recent improvements in the foreign service leave schemes of the Army and the Royal Air Force upset the relativity of the Naval scheme. To restore the balance, it has now been decided to grant Naval personnel additional leave on release on the basis of one day's leave for each completed period of three months overseas service. This new leave, which will be known as "Special Overseas Service Leave," will not be granted in respect of service abroad for which foreign Service leave is granted on dispersal. This decision will apply retrospectively to all personnel dispersed since 18th June, 1945, in both Class A and Class B.

Mr. Lipson

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether this concession will apply to the R.A.F. personnel serving in the Fleet Air Arm?

Mr. Alexander

I am not sure that this personnel is not already covered by the R.A.F. regulations, but I will look into it.